Global Capitalism, national democracy and the TPPA


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Political economist William Robinson, writing in 2004, argued that world economic activity had become dominated  by transnational corporations. He drew from World Investment reports published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and private reports to chart the growth of cross-border corporate mergers and acquisitions.

There were 14 in 1980 and 9655 in 1999. Between 2000 and 2007 inclusive, such deals in excess of US $1billion totalled 1335. In all sectors of capitalism,  cross-border mergers and acquisitions advanced horizontal and vertical intergration, global economies of scale and inter-corporate strategic alliances.

In 2000 the 500 largest transnational corporations controlled approximately 80 per cent of the world`s foreign investment, 30 per cent of global output and 70 per cent of world trade. These trends represent a fundamental shift in the organisation of capitalism.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe  transnational capitalism impacted upon vast new populations. National economies become incorporated, to a greater or lesser extent, into global networks of finance, production and consumption.

In rough outline this is global capitalism.

The entire arrangement required a loose transnational state structure which would advance the neoliberal policy preferences of transnational corporate elites. This structure included policy development organisations such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the Tri-lateral Commission (TC), the Bilderberg Group ,the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Together, they formed a world of financiers and corporate executives who invited in major government leaders, NGO`s and leading intellectuals. Transnational policy research groups set the ideological boundaries for supra-national and international bodies such as the European Union (EU), the G8 , the G10 , the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Trade  Organisation (WTO), the International Monetary Fund  (IMF) and the Bank of International Settlements (BIS).

Crucially, the transnational state network also included the executive level of those nation states which had capitulated to neoliberalism. Office holders within finance ministries, policy advice groups and the senior civil service matched national economic priorities to the demands of global finance and transnational corporations. National legal systems, representative assemblies, electoral mandates and journalistic principles of inquiry were sidelined. In short, global capitalism through the transnational state, sought to overrule national democracy.

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Back in 1997 and 1998 for example the OECD`s Multilateral Agreement on Investment enabled corporations to  seek retrospective compensation from states that had extended regulatory controls over foreign companies and investors. Under MAI  state-regulatory policies could be legally defined as acts of expropriation by supra-national dispute resolution bodies. This radical contraction of national state autonomy was prevented by a worldwide, three year campaign driven by activist groups, unions, political parties, NGOs and environmental organisations. Now, 15 years later, similar mobilisations will be required to undermine the TPPA and the investor state provisions it contains.

Let us now pause to consider the nature of this agreement.

Conventional accounts describe a trade arrangement among 12 Pacific Rim countries concerning various aspects of economic policy; agriculture, manufacturing, information technologies, pharmaceuticals, intellectual property, investor state relations etc. Some reportage emphasises the strategic role of the United States within the TPPA as a counterweight to China. Each round of TPPA negotiations was, typically, portrayed as a struggle for concession and advantage among the 12 states (Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the United States and Vietnam). This is all quite misleading. More accurately, the TPPA matches the desire of transnational corporations to hollow out national economies, polities and legal systems. Signatories to the agreement are in effect answerable to organisations of the transnational state at the expense of national populations.

This was made clear on March 26  when Wikileaks released a (January 20 ) draft  of the TPPA`s investor-state arbitration chapter. Julian Assange noted the proposed creation of a supra-national court or tribunal where corporations could sue states and obtain taxpayer compensation for future profits foregone at the expense of national judicial processes.

What New Zealand has signed up to here will be revealed by the lifting of the TPPA secrecy clause. It is already clear, however, that the executive state (National`s cabinet, Treasury, Reserve Bank, MFAT, other senior ministries and associated policy advice groups) have acceded to a deal which  damages the precepts of national-legal sovereignty, parliamentary democracy and the electoral mandate. A vital question remains to be answered. Will this incursion of the transnational state incorporate the entire political class? The Greens and New Zealand First have deep concerns about the TPPA? So would the Maori Party,at least privately. What then is Labour`s position? Will their leadership oppose the TPPA and its investor –state provisions?  Or will they, as part of the transnational state, allow transnational corporations to further threaten our democracy and national sovereignty?

New Zealand is waiting.


  1. “What then is Labour`s position?”

    In the region where I live an anti-TPPA march was organised on the same day as other centres around New Zealand. The Labour branch decided not to take part in it, after initially supporting it. I heard last night that that came from higher up the line. That sort of thing makes me wonder if Labour would really oppose the TPPA when push comes to shove.

      • Monsanto is the epitome of monopoly and crony-state collusion.

        But Monsanto’s grip is not only on the throat of National through its monopoly on seeds that it enforces globally, its grip is strangling Labour and the entire world.

        • Monsantos profits are dwindling very quickly . A number of countries have banned Monsanto products,they are losing out big time ,but if TPP goes ahead Monsanto would probably use state investor clause to get into those countries.

          • That may be due to the record number of payouts. A movie was made about one of them, you may know it, “Erin Brochovich.”

            Monsanto gets away with a lot because they employ to many people.

            I was going to link a Rollingstones article that said Monsanto payed 20 senators and congressmen millions each. But the article has been 406’d

    • Neither are all NZers by a long stretch, but that message has not even registered with lying Key and arrogant Groser

  2. Apparently the TPPA isn’t free trade, it’s MANAGED trade. For corporations.

    We don’t ebven need to be sued under the ISDS provisions, a threat is sufficient for Key to back away.

    • Nailed it, Priss.

      So far, Key has caved to Rio Tinto ($30 million), Warner Bros ($60 million-plus), a Saudi businessman ($11 million), Skycity (?), and stopped the plain packaging bill here in NZ while the Aussies get their asses sued by Phillip Morris.

      We don’t need to be sued. We just have a PM too gutless to say “no”.

    • Why don’t we put it in a context that the sleepy hobbits might possibly understand: The TPPA is a Clayton’s agreement – the free trade agreement you get when you don’t have a free trade agreement.

  3. The whole thing seems to me a wet dream for corporatists. The narrow viewpoint of lining the personal pocket trumps the national state. Our forefathers fought for universal franchise within the borders of each individual country, their descendants trade it meekly for a few more dollars more than the Jones next door. Now the state is so diminished by the international corporatist system that it no longer can represent its own citizens: from a democratic viewpoint the state is becoming defunct and illegitimate. When we as individuals fail the collective this is the result: we are to blame for our own demise.

    Perhaps in the illegitimacy of the state lies the answer: the state is by necessity coercive. Illegitimate states find it harder to use coercion to enforce their power. Disobedience and revolt may cure this malaise. Lets not recognise the dealings of the international courts etc. They will find that without an effective legitimate coercive state to provide security over their treaties and beloved business environment they will fail to impose their rule. A Gandhi type approach could be very effective.

  4. Well, hello there Andy. Mighty good of you to take the time out of your busy schedule for this phone call. I’ll try to be brief but I do need to make myself clear and if you’ve got any questions I’ll be more than happy to answer them for you if I can.
    Now Andy i’m talking to you because you are an important man. I’ve read about you’re background and I understand where you’re coming from. Protecting the rights of the common working man is a noble profession and by golly you’ve done great work, great work. Now that you’re the leader of your political party and a credible contender for leadership of your country there are some realities that I need to make you aware of. Our two countries have been great allies over a long period of time and working closely together in both the public and private arenas if you know what I mean. When its all boiled down, Andy, there are five countries that have a special bond – our two countries, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. Okay, so these are the WASP countries – ha ha sounds kinda funny don’t it? But seriously, we share a common racial and cultural heritage that’s worth preserving. Whaddya say Andy?
    Let me come to the point now Andy. We live in difficult times Andy. Things aren’t as simple as they used to be, the game is changing, the power balance is moving and we need to be alert. This is also a time of opportunity Andy and hard decisions have to be made – it’s easy to get fixated on sticky details but it’s the bigger picture that matters Andy. We’ve been working steadily for a number of years now Andy on building a new architecture for trade and foreign relations. Why? Because of threats Andy, threats to the common man, the man you’re working for.
    We need to see support Andy. We really need to see support – sure you can make noises against this new construct, I understand the political necessity for a man in your position. We don’t mind that as long as you focus on the big picture Andy. You will face some pressure from some of your party and the more extreme commentators. Listen to them but stand strong Andy and hold your position. A mistake at this point would be very unwise Andy. I don’t want you to make a mistake Andy – keep thinking of that bigger picture.
    Hey big guy, I’m taking too much of your time. Any questions? No, that’s great. Andy, really appreciate you so generously giving me this time.

  5. Well put Wayne,
    “The TPPA matches the desire of transnational corporations to hollow out national economies, polities and legal systems. Signatories to the agreement are in effect answerable to organisations of the transnational state at the expense of national populations.”

    Strange that a “National Government has now crossed the floor and now is against “National Politics”

    What does “NATIONAL” mean.

    Does Shonkey place allegiance in NZ?

    Does he pretend to be protecting us against the global corporate criminals? Ha Ha maybe he should read the dictionary as to what national actually means as his master Robert Muldoon did.

    4/ owned or maintained for the public by the national government

    Dictionary entry overview: What does national mean?

    • NATIONAL (noun)
    The noun NATIONAL has 1 sense:

    1. a person who owes allegiance to that nation

    Familiarity information: NATIONAL used as a noun is very rare.

    • NATIONAL (adjective)
    The adjective NATIONAL has 7 senses:

    1. of or relating to or belonging to a nation or country
    2. limited to or in the interests of a particular nation
    3. concerned with or applicable to or belonging to an entire nation or country
    4. owned or maintained for the public by the national government
    5. inside the country
    6. characteristic of or peculiar to the people of a nation
    7. of or relating to nationality

      • TBH. I think transnationalism is public pension funds buying up state owned assets.

        Or the purchasing of state owned assets to fund retirement planes.

        German pension funds just loves buying British Trains.

  6. If all this is true, it will be clarified when the authoritative text comes out. At that point it will be incumbent on all affected parties to do their homework.

    This kind of transnational corporate power grab will affect more than just New Zealand so there are also likely to be cogent arguments forthcoming from off shore. Currently, the Americans are focused on the potential loss of jobs in the US. Later there will be a more intellectual critique that will potentially add much to the information available here.

    What is needed in New Zealand is a central clearing house for data and analysis. Otherwise the isolated, raised voices will be dismissed or otherwise neutralized one by one.

    By the way, this clearing house should, if possible be non-partisan: I mean without an a previously-stated position. This is not to deny the value of interim criticism based on partial or supposed information. But your main powder should have been kept dry to use when the full data comes to hand.

    The Daily Blog couldn’t control it. Nor could Wayne Hope or Jane Kelsey. All are tainted by their convictions: whether those convictions are fully justified or not.

    Maybe you should ask Labour if they would like run it. Not as patsies of the Neo-libs or as National-lite, or as betrayers of the working class or any other pejorative hyperbole, but as politicians with the wit to first wait for the definitive evidence before firing every shot in the locker. It is the only way to be listened to. Maybe the only way to deserve to be listened to.

    • We must demand an alternative to TPP. Not because Jane or Wyan say so. Because Rogernomics got it wrong.

      It takes enormous hubris to believe a trade deal will create a million well paring jobs. It takes even greater hubris considering the TPP will unwind protections that have prevented deep down turns since the Great Depression.

      The facts are clear. Grosser pissed all over IOA legislation to hide this deal. That’s a red. Given such shenanigans, it shouldn’t matter if golden eggs pop out of the TPPA. The answer is nah boi.

      • Get this straight, it is NOT A TRADE DEAL. It is a fundamental restructuring of power masquerading as an FTA.

        • Meh. It won’t even really help the corporations. All this is going to lead to is a bunch of mega corps that have absorbed all smaller companies leading to economic stagnation.

    • 1000% Helena brilliant. Russia is making NZ look like a toxic dump site with the help of Keysters handiwork the bloody criminal.

      • Yup. Key should have joined the BRICS alliance ,much more trade there , and Russia is far more trustworthy than the cabal controlled USA. Key has backed the wrong horse, well that’s understandable he has shares in that particular horse ,he had better spread his bets before its too late.

  7. Where there is Wayne, there is hope. Keep posting here, Wayne, we need your intellect and insight!

    [My apologies; incorrectly deleted and re-posted under wrong account. Sorted now. – ScarletMod]

  8. Well fortunately we here aren’t the only people on the planet that see this shitty deal for what it is.
    Seems our only real hope now is that the US Congress scuttles it (that would obviously destroy it for everyone else too).

  9. Excellent post Wayne.
    If the TPP is ratified it may/will open NZ to cultivate GMO crops. Australia?

    It is not just Russia that is banning GMO’s. Many countries,

    All you need to know about glysophate (Roundup) and GMO food.
    Research evidence top bar.
    NZ mentioned at bottom of page,

    WHO announced on March 20 2015 that glysophate ‘probably’ caused cancer!
    Watered down language after Monsanto (and others) protested?
    Their own reseach arm said it did.
    Did we here that on our MSM?

    It is clear now our political parties (National AND Labour) do not work in our best
    interests,INCLUDING the Greens.
    The above site( you would think) should be known to them already.
    Two weeks ago I checked back through their website news of the WHO announcement.
    Not one word. So much for the ‘Sustainable Environment Party’.

    The chapter about copyright may/will be used,in my opinion, to shut down the
    Alternative News sites by making it a criminal offence to link to any MSM without
    permission(or fee?)
    End of free speech and Fair Use etc?
    See Drudge Report and (MSM hate them) on subject.

    NZ now seems isolated in real news terms like America has been for decades.
    Time to turn the MSM off,do our own research from trusted sites and bombard
    our politicians / Parties with real news and research until somebody picks it up
    and runs with it.
    At a bare minimum,we will be armed with the truth to vote and spend our hard
    earned dollars accordingly and to protect ourselves,family and grandchildren etc.

    Dr Russel Baylock
    RT news/
    Sputnik International (new from end of 2014) TPP article.

    Always check the about column if not sure of your source.


  10. Dr Russel Blaylock MD is a top neurosurgeon. Highly respected,now retired.
    No one is going to read his published, peer reviewed,research papers except
    doctors etc on so here is his youtube channel of articles.
    Urge everyone to view the featured one at top.

    The question regards the TPPA is if NZ stopped the Gardisil Program like Japan
    and other countries have done, would we be sued for loss of profits by BigPharma?

    They would be huge and could get very ugly.


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